Commentaries
English
Matthew
  
8. The Great Commandment
(Matthew 22:34-40)
34But when the Pharisees heard that He had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together.35Then one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, and saying,36“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?”37Jesus said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’38This is the first and great commandment.39And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’40On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” (Mark12:28-31, Luke10:25-28, Romans13:9-10)


The Jews drifted from the core of their faith and became more interested in the details of the Law of Moses. They believed that they could satisfy God by keeping the 613 rules. As a result, their godliness became mere formality and quite complicated. They did not distinguish the essence of the law because of their own judgments, and they became distant from the heart of faith.
What is the essence of law? It is God himself, the most Holy, full of love. He is the perfect essence and measure of law. Moses was divinely instructed, “Be holy, for I am holy.” Jesus explained the meaning of this verse in the spirit of the new covenant, saying, “Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:48). He who looks carefully at these two commandments may realize that his love of God and men is very weak. We do not love the Lord with all our hearts, with all of our souls, and with all of our minds. Neither do we love others as we should. We do not reach God’s level of mercy and kindness by our human ability, for there is no perfection in a creature as there is in the Creator.
Christ alone is the man who fulfilled this commandment, for He is the only Son of His great Father. All of His life was an expression of the commandment of perfection in love and holiness. By His words, His deeds, His death and resurrection, He demonstrated love for God and men. He loved God with all His heart, soul, mind, and strength, and He loved us sinners as He loved Himself. He redeemed us so that we might become “God’s children by adoption.” Though our love is weak, He gave us divine power by His salvation to love as He loves us. When the Holy Spirit dwells in us, He helps us to love God not only with our emotions, but also in deeds, service, and sacrifice. The Holy Spirit is our share in God’s perfection. He guides us to love the Savior. As St. Paul said, “the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us” (Romans 5:5). This divine essence changes us from being selfish people to loving people. He who loves God with all his heart, soul, and mind, loves men as well, for they bear His image. If we profess our love of God but do not love others, then we are liars.
All of the law is fulfilled in one word: “love” (Romans 13:10). Obedience begins with the affections and is carried out in the spirit of love. Love is the leading affection, which gives meaning and substance to everything else. Man is a creature meant for love. Love gives rest and satisfaction of the soul. If we walk in this good way, we shall find rest.
God is filled with constant, unchanging love. Thus, He gave His Son as a substitute to save sinners. Let us also love sinners while rejecting the sin in them. Christ invites you to commune with His heavenly Father so that you may become strong and filled with His love. His power will refresh your strength. His love will sanctify your love. His knowledge will fill your heart with joy so that your life may become one of thankfulness to God.
Do you love God? Then praise Him, glorify Him, serve Him, and spread His love in your community. Ask Him to give you determination, insight, and discernment so that you can practice His love. If you enter into the commandment of love to God and men, you will see that God is waiting for you to submit your heart, mind, and body to Him. If you have given yourself completely to God, there will be no room for selfishness and self-love.
We must love Him entirely, “with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.” Some people believe that all three of these terms signify one and the same thing: to love Him with all our powers. Others break down the terms as follows: the heart, soul, and mind are the will, affections, and understanding. Our love for God must be a sincere. It must not be in word and tongue only, as it is with those who say they love Him but their hearts are not with Him. It must be a continuous love. We should love him in the most intense degree. As we praise Him, so we love Him, with all that is within us (Psalm 103:1). May the Lord give us hearts that are united rather than divided. Even our best love is insufficient to give Him. Therefore, all the powers of the soul must be engaged for Him and focused on Him.
In our fallen nature, we are selfish and proud, but the Lord asks us to change, to love others, to eliminate self-love. He desires that we follow the example of Christ, who gave His life a ransom for many.

Prayer
Holy Father, we love You because You are the holy love. You created us, and You purify us, sanctify us, and preserve us forever. We thank You for the sacrifice of Your Son who died that we might live. We love You and submit ourselves to Your service. Use our lives that Your glorious grace will be praised. We ask that Your kindness and mercy penetrate in our homes, schools, and all areas of our life. Help us to love not in words, but in deed and truth.
Question
How can we truly love God and men?